How to build a successful email marketing database that delivers

The first and obvious step to developing a successful email marketing strategy starts with building a quality contact list - but don’t just think of your database as names on a spreadsheet. Your list could potentially generate thousands of pounds worth of income.

Quality over quantity

It’s easy to assume that the more contacts you have, the more likely it is that you’ll achieve results. But, in reality, the opposite is true. You need your database to be filled with people who have an interest in your business. If nobody is interested, your list won’t convert. By having a quality database, full of engaged customers, you might be able to entice your readers to make an enquiry or spend their hard-earned pennies.

Engage, engage, engage

The key to achieving a quality list is to first engage customers on a one-to-one basis, or ideally in person. Subsequently, you should then build upon your customer’s positive experience and ask if you can continue your conversation over email. The more information you have on your customer (interests, recent purchases, requirements), the more able you can be in tailoring content and offers to suit their needs.

Here’s some ideas to attract sign-ups:

·         Ask for sign-ups at the end of a transaction. Your customers are more likely to want to find out more after they’ve already done business with you.

·         Insert a link in your email signature and social media bios so customers can automatically subscribe. Avoid forcing customers to fill out long forms and questionnaires.

·         Add a sign-up form on your Facebook page.

·         Create a “reasons to sign up page,” featuring feedback from customers and post it on your website.

·         Include a text-to-join feature so people can easily sign up through their smartphone.

·         Include multiple sign-up forms on your website (and not just on the footer). More forms generally equals more sign-ups.

·         Entice your subscribers by giving something back. What offers or materials could be valuable to your customers? Perhaps a discount or a free eBook?

Keeping hold of your audience

Getting someone to give you an email address is only one part of building a contact list. Once you have subscribers, you need to find a way to hold on to them. If you’re not sending out interesting content, your database can soon deplete via the dreaded 'unsubscribes' if you’re not careful. Ensure your tailoring your content as much as possible. Every single reader will be different, so sending the same email to everyone is unlikely to achieve results.

But how many emails should you send? The advice is to find a good balance. You should be sure that you are sending out enough emails so your subscribers don't forget who you are, but not too many that you are bothering them. Once per month is usually a good starting point, as a minimum (industry dependent).

In summary, it all comes down to your messaging. The more you can engage your subscribers with information they're interested in, the more likely you are to build a database that will deliver.

How to make the most of your marketing plan on a limited budget

Creating an effective marketing plan can be a conundrum for many small business owners, particularly when the budget is on a real shoestring. As a business owner, you’ll need to work out which activities will draw the most amount of leads for the least amount of your precious pounds.

They key to marketing success will generally be down to understanding your audience and customers. Without knowing your audience, you will struggle to market to them and to get your sales messages across. It’s also vital you don’t throw money down the drain and throw good money after bad.

Measuring ROI

Although there are endless ways to measure the results of your campaigns and decipher whether your marketing is working (or not), in its simplest form it’s wise to stick to marketing methods that work for you.

If you are consistently spending money on marketing that isn’t yielding results, then stop it immediately and review if there’s something you could change to improve your return on investment. Just because something should be ‘tried and tested’, if it’s broken and expensive, there’s little point in continuing. Nevertheless, don’t discard it forever. It might be that with a little tweak to your campaign, you’ll start winning those all-important leads.

Utilise low cost options

Channels such as social media may seem like they wouldn’t produce direct results, but if they are utilised correctly, they can be extremely cost effective.

There are so many advertising options with excellent segmentation tools available on platforms such as Facebook, that you can reach your most likely customers with relative ease. You can set yourself a daily budget and target a set number of people depending on their likes and demographic; a tool which is almost unbeatable in certain industries.

With careful monitoring, you can listen to your audience and understand what they say about a particular product or service, helping you to revise and improve your strategy and maybe even your business model.

Traditional marketing isn’t dead

Of course, whilst social is cheap when compared to Pay Per Click and advertising, there’s a reason that businesses are still spending millions every day using more traditional channels. Don’t ignore things like weekly emails and direct mail, just because they are viewed as ‘old hat’. Anything you can do to make yourself more visible is likely to breed success.

You are your business

If you are sitting in your office waiting for the next customer to walk in or ring up, you may be waiting a long time. Your marketing plan needs to revolve around your skills and expertise.

Showcasing your talents becomes a lot easier when you are also active outside of your place of work. Joining networking groups such as BNI and your local Chamber of Commerce will do wonders to help you generate interest in your business. Your customers are far more likely to be engaged when they speak to you directly about what you do and why you do it, rather than reading your emails or watching your ads.

All you need to know when doing DIY Public Relations

For a small business or start-up, promoting any commercial news or success is likely to be a crucial part of marketing your services. But PR can be costly and a real luxury for most burgeoning companies.

PR companies can add huge value when done correctly, particularly if the right strategy and press releases are managed effectively. But, unless you spend thousands per year on a retainer, you are unlikely to receive much more than a few press releases (on most occasions) for your valuable money.

However, there are some DIY options to do PR in house. The good news is that there is nobody more qualified to talk about the business than the owners and directors themselves. Of course, developing a successful PR strategy will take time and resources, but costs can certainly be saved – and the increased customer awareness and increased sales you get in return should be worth it.

All good PR writers are good PR readers

The expression is definitely true in PR: to be a good writer, you need to be a good reader. Set aside at least 15 minutes a day to read the news. Learn about media outlets, key reporters, your competitors and how they're talking about themselves. This will help you understand the major media influencers in your industry and start building the connections you need to reach those people.

Respect the journalists

Engage with key journalists well in advance. If you’ve never spoken to a reporter before and suddenly you email them out of the blue asking for coverage, chances are that they won’t be engaged to publish it. Try and get to know any journalists you think will be able to help your PR strategy and send them some praise if there’s an opportunity. Even things such as Twitter retweets or giving them compliments will help your cause.

Journalists will always want to be the recipient of a good story, but unless yours stands out from the crowd, there may be little other reason for your release to be published.

Avoid clichés and jargon

It’s wise to avoid clichés and marketing talk. Phrases like "game changing," "cutting edge," and "disruption" will encourage reporters to switch off immediately. If a journalist is not interested, then your story won’t be published, and nobody will ever read it.

Write about your company the way that you think it will be covered. If you want your story to appear in your local newspaper, try and emulate the kinds of language being used in that publication.

Write a compelling headline

Think of a headline as your pitch. Try and create a compelling subject line to grab your reporter’s attention and in turn the consumer’s. The headline should be punchy and be short enough to read from a smartphone. However, it should still be informative and inviting to encourage further reading. Including words such as ‘new’ or ‘growth’ or ‘success’ could (although not always) help you pass the journalist’s vetting process.

Reverse engineer a successful press release

A successful press release is not just one that you enjoy reading, but one that resembles those covered widely in your industry.

By studying similar press releases that have achieved good coverage by your preferred media outlets, you should be able to make an effective template for yourself. Break down the winning press release into sections and try and understand why they are successful. By emulating success, you’ll give yourself the best chance of achieving the results you desire – so long as there’s no plagiarism!